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Prodigal Bikes 

Mr Knight is such a lying git. He fibs like a fibber and he lies like a liar and he tells untruths like a person spreading disinformation and rumour and innuendo and stuff like that. He is a lying, untruthful, fibbing, dishonest, dissembling git and he's a neighbour who bears false witness and he departs from facts and he misleads parliament and makes fraudulent statements and is Generally Bad. He has completely fabricated that wholly false and incorrect and malicious story. I would never, ever suggest he ride the giraffe on the orchard path. (We now call it a giraffe. It isn't a giraffe, obv., but that's the name it ended up with.) Never, ever in a hundred million years would I encourage my son to sprint along next to him in a wild and exuberant pell-mell race along a dry, dusty, pot-holed orchard path on a very high bicycle with a very short wheelbase, because natch what would happen in a Pothole Sitchuwation is the big front wheel would leave it at the same time as the small back wheel entered it and then instantly afterwards the back wheel would be flicked upwards out of the hole and he would fly through the air describing a parabola and land on his bonce shouting 'ow ow ow'.

It is all His Fault.

It is none of it My Fault.

He is an evil, bad, wicked, malevolent, deceitful, libellous influence on the Diaspora and not one of my Followers should believe him for an instant.

What actually happened was this.

Mr Knight saw the giraffe and instantly said 'Please, oh Please may I have a go on that exquisitely designed and perfectly crafted machine with its superb welded joints and meticulously fitted front wheel bearings and faultless paint job and Whatton bars' and I (very reluctantly) said 'Oh well okay but you must treat it with consummate care because so short a wheelbase may lead to pitching and you have so little experience riding penny farthings or other front drivers and I cannot have you jeopardise yourself the very day before your birthday when I have such a large pile of absolutely brand new hand-picked books carefully gift-wrapped for the morrow.' (I hadn't. I had a heap of crumbling old volumes picked up at the local book fair incl. the inevitable child's colour picture book of fire engines that we give him each year because we happen to know that Mr Knight used to be a volunteer fireman, going out along the M4 with a large hose to extinguish the smouldering remains of someone who thought they could text-and-drive at the same time. And we give him old books purely because we happen to know he c'llects old books and wouldn't know what a new one looks like, and not because they only cost us fifty cents each.)

So off he went and I caught no glimpse of him till I was scything the long grass next to the dustbin and I glanced up and there in the distance sat my son on the penny trike gazing forlornly on the corpse of the giraffe and the other corpse of Mr Knight. I was overcome, as you may imagine, with regret, because if I had chanced to glance up a moment earlier I would have seen him fly over the handlebars, and I was overcome with even more regret because if adequately forewarned I could have nipped inside and got a camera out and recorded the event for the entertainment of the Internet. Huh! Whatever you thought Youtube was for was inc'rrect. It's not for that at all. It's so we can watch members of the Diaspora falling off at speed.

Also, I didn't give him a single Campagnolo part. He nicked 'em all. He snuck in and snuck out again and immediately the entire shed was empty, cleaned out completely, and as he drove off his car was packed to the gunn'ls with shards of bicycle that I was saving to keep in a glass case labelled 'Exquisite Italian bicycle jewels that Mr Knight Hasn't Got and I Have Got so nur nur ne-nur nur'. (I have the Campagnolo Super Record rear mech that Walter Haenni used to win the Austrian road championships twenty or thirty years ago. Each year I get it out gloatingly and show it to him, enjoying his misery at the fact that he does not own it and I do.)


Walter Haenni's rear mech


However the good news is that the police rang on Thursday to say they'd recovered the rain bike near the high school, minus its panniers but otherwise intact and they phoned at lunchtime yesterday with the joyful news that Frankenbike has been found. It had been standing outside the Warehouse for a fortnight. - It will be deduced that we do not frequent the Warehouse, a shop rather like Walmart, but bicycle stealers do. - Some rust from all the rain, and the tools had gone from the little saddlebag, but otherwise everything there was intact too. 'A perfectly good gentleman's mountain bicycle' is what P.C. Morris of Barrow upon Soar would have said, but P.C. Morris doesn't live here and the officer who hauled it out of the police lock-up confined himself to the cryptic remark 'Unusual looking bike?' with which observation it was impossible to argue.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 8:30:00 AM Categories: bike crash front wheel drive penny farthing Rob English Stolen Bikes

Errant fireman's hose 

Well, y'know Saturday's post? - On Sunday my wife went to a Top Team event, which is where some keen work colleague pressurizes everyone to enter a carnival and hop about in four-in-a-sack-race and carry-water-in-your-welly-boots-while-wearing-them games.

About halfway through a fire hose blew a nozzle thingy out of the end and the hose started lashing about like a wild thing, knocking over a pushchair, a nurse, and slicing my wife's foot open to the tendons. She needed seven stitches. The gash was two and a half inches long. It bled through the pressure bandage afterwards and she had to have it dressed again. My finger didn't hurt nearly as much when I saw the wound. She fondly imagines she won't be playing tennis until Thursday. When she cancelled tomorrow's lesson her coach sent her a text:

Sorry to hear that. You never know when you're going to be hit by a fireman's hose.

I consulted a former fireman who chances to be a mathematics graduate. I learnt that fire hoses operate at 130 psi and a 25 metre hose weighs 25 kg. The mathematician calculated that when a hose nozzle thingy breaks and whacks your foot open, the force delivered = Enormous.

Meanwhile my son has found the following two advertisements in the school magazine, whose juxtaposition is not entirely irrelevant in the circumstances.



Monday, November 7, 2011 7:57:00 AM Categories: advertising injury

Drama in Real Life 

Yesterday morning I was surprised to find the tandem lying on its side and the penny trike halfway up the drive. We are usually more careful than that. It suddenly crossed my mind to count the bikes, and behold, the rain bike and Frankenbike were missing.

What sometimes happens in these parts is that those who have generously partaken of wine think of bicycling home, and redressing their lack of bicycle by what we prefer to call borrowing, leave them propped up against a tree somewhere else.

Several walks round the orchard and along the river bank but no bikes, and we are left - as is so often the case - with an enhanced appreciation of what we don't have any more. A lady's step-through bike that can be mounted easily in waterproof trousers, with a fully enclosed chaincase, drum brakes front and rear, stainless steel 700c rims with very fine racing tyres on, and waterproof panniers is a truly practical vehicle in a country blessed with adequate rainfall.

Stolen rain bike

And suddenly I feel remorsefully proud of Frankenbike with its Marzocchi front fork and GT Horst Leitner rear suspension that let me cruise the dirt roads in glorious comfort with its swept-back city handlebars that you can't buy in New Zealand despite being a hundred times more comfortable than straight mountainbike handlebars and a Mirrycle that you also can't buy here.

Stolen Frankenbike

However I fancy you will heartlessly observe that having your bikes nicked is scarcely Drama in Real Life, which needs to at least have a sawmill where the operator falls into the machinery and has his legs and abdomen cut from his body so that only arms, chest and head remain, and while using a pair of crutches improvised from a torque wrench and a speed brace to limp along to the emergency ward he gets run over by an unexpected reversing Tiger tank owned by a re-enacter and all that remains is a wisp of hair which, by careful skin grafting and experimental stem cell research, they reconstruct him in a Petri dish and after six months' rehabilitation hand him the address of Reader's Digest to make a few bob on the side. - I always loathed Drama in Real Life. It was horrible and gory and I hated it but at least it put the actual experience of being in the dentist's chair in context. Why did dentists always have piles of Reader's Digests? How many did they think you could get through? They only have National Geographic these days.


Well anyway, I told you I was stupid, didn't I? - In fact I rather laboured the point. - I needn't have done. - Somehow or other this afternoon, after donning eye protection and ear protection but failing to think as far ahead as enormously thick heavy leather gloves, I dropped the angle-grinder with a rotary wire brush and it cut straight through the tip of my right index finger. The brush sliced the nail in half sideways and left the tip of the finger flapping about in a manner an estate agent might describe as semi-detached and a violin teacher might describe as something else. Dr Brewer who has considerable empathy with vexing mishaps was on call and until he could get to me he told me to apply pressure to both sides of the knuckle, which would pinch the artery and stop it bleeding. Useful tip, but I'd have preferred to have learnt it out of context. Throbbing and regret in equal measure right now. Time for a career change. I'm going to apply to be a Visual Aid for Health and Safety lecturers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011 9:15:00 AM Categories: injury Stolen Bikes stupidity

Stupidest person ever 

Mr Knight occasionally avers that I am not the cleverest person in New Zealand and sometimes I incline to agree.

Yesterday I took two blocks of wood and some 320 grit wet-and-dry and smoothed a pivot for the swing-arm bushes in the lathe, and when I switched off I promptly applied the finger-test to see how smooth it was, and because it had turned to straw-yellow I was unable to feel its smoothness owing to the fact that all the nerve endings in my fingertip had just been cauterized. 'OW!' is what I cried, before reverting to the more usual word employed on these occasions.

Today I gouged three holes in my left hand while picking an orange from the top of the tree with a dandelion-uprooter. 'OW!' I cried again, before etc etc etc. - You may wonder why I was using a dandelion up-rooter to pick oranges but I decline to address this mystery.

However sometimes - mostly - I am far cleverer than Mr Knight because he accomplishes huge volumes of aluminium swarf in hours and hours and hours to make a former whereas in a few minutes I accomplish huge volumes of sawdust and an equally useful applewood former for bending tubes. You have no idea how useful this can be until you see the price of a 12-ton hydraulic press and you realise that bicycle tube can often be bent in a vice.

Here is a small log of firewood, spun in the lathe for ten minutes, with a groove machined with a wood chisel to fit the rear stays of an otherwise useless Raleigh Twenty. Accompanying it is a stay (unbent) and another stay (bent) and one day, if I can ever persuade myself to finish any project whatever, they will become a Winther Donkey. No of course I don't need one - I just admire the simplicity of the design, and trusting to the good nature of Danes rather hope they never get to hear of it and pursue me with writs and affidavits and other legal instruments that I don't intend ever to waste my lifespan understanding in an attempt to protect their patent.


I do not know what I will do tomorrow but it will involve self-harm and it will be involuntary and yet it will also be entirely predictable. - Hey, I haven't tried that trick of using the wrong side of the disc sander with no eye protection for a while. - Must give it a go while my specs are in Auckland having new lenses fitted.

A real Winther Donkey


Wednesday, November 2, 2011 12:37:00 AM Categories: stupidity wood former
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